Disney is developing ways to watch sports with Apple's Vision Pro that could give fans new control over the action
- Disney outlined its vision Monday for how virtual reality could change the way we watch sports.
- CEO Bob Iger shared the "sneak peek" as partner Apple unveiled its upcoming Vision Pro headset.
Disney gave a glimpse on Monday into its vision for how VR could change the way we watch sports, and the possibilities give new meaning to picture-in-picture and on-screen stats.
CEO Bob Iger said at Apple's 2023 Worldwide Developers Conference, where it unveiled its new Vision Pro mixed-reality headset, that Disney will be developing new entertainment experiences for the platform. He shared a "sneak peek" of what those could look like, including a reimagined sports-viewing experience.
The ESPN owner's preview for sports on Vision Pro could display five games at once with the ability to easily toggle between them and access your favorite teams and leagues from the same view.
Focusing on one match-up could enable fans to see multiple angles of the on-field action, including court-side views, buttressed by detailed stats.
Viewers could also choose to watch in-depth replays.
"You could do more than just watch sports," the voiceover said. "You could be at the game without leaving your home or be part of the action like never before."
It's unclear how much of this viewing experience will be available when the Vision Pro is slated to start shipping early next year. Iger said Disney+, the company's flagship streaming service, would be available on day one, but did not mention its sports streamer ESPN+.
But Disney's plan shows the media giant, which faced investor pressure to spin off ESPN in the recent past, still sees sports as a key part of its future.
The Apple partnership was a much-needed win for Iger, who has been putting out fires at Disney since his November 2022 return as CEO. In recent months, Iger has also cut 7,000 jobs amid economic headwinds.
The offering could also provide an opportunity for some of Disney's sports partners to rethink how they engage fans. The preview included many of Disney's marquee sports properties — including the NBA, NHL, MLB, college football, and Formula 1 — some of which are known to be on the cutting edge of technology. Formula 1's Mercedes-AMG Petronas team, for instance, experimented back in 2014 with using the iPad to put fans in the driver's seat during races. And the NBA has long been at the forefront of social media.
Apple has moved into sports in recent years, too, acquiring the rights to stream MLB's "Friday Night Baseball" and inking a deal to stream live MLS matches on Apple TV+ for the next 10 seasons. The company did not discuss plans for sports on the Vision Pro.
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